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Mixed feelings . . .

January 30 2012 at 10:26 PM

Craig LA  (Login 996TTx50)
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Response to Panerai precious metal watches - a short history and debate

I have very mixed feelings about precious metal PAMs.

On the one hand, precious metals are arguably antithetical to Panerai’s original DNA. The Italian Navy never ordered any gold or platinum watches for their divers. The notion of a precious metal military/tool/utility watch seems rather oxymoronic. On the other hand, Panerai cannot limit itself to its original DNA. Rather, in order to survive, the company must broaden its horizons and expand its designs. In this regard, I embrace many of Panerai’s recent advances and evolutions, regardless of the lack of strict adherence to historical roots.

While on the subject of precious metal PAMs, I strongly believe that Panerai has to be careful how it brings these models to market in relationship to stainless steel versions. There is no denying that the availability of a nearly identical version of the same watch in SS reduces the demand for, and therefore devalues, the precious metal version. Given this economic reality, I personally believe that, if Panerai intends to make SS and precious metal versions of the same watch, they should introduce the SS version first or contemporaneously with the precious metal version, so that buyers of the precious metal version know up front that **** version exists. This way, purchasers of the precious metal versions have all the facts in advance of their purchase, so that they can make an informed decision about the significant expenditure and associated downside exposure. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that Panerais should be purchased as investments, nor that the risk of declining values should control purchasing decisions. That being said, there are very few watches that are kept forever. History tells us that, no matter how much we love a watch in the beginning, there is a substantial likelihood that we will ultimately sell it to fund a new grail. Therefore, even though watches are not investments, we nevertheless purchase with a recognition that we will likely sell at some point. In that regard, we are entitled to have the facts upfront.

This is not a novel concept. Car manufacturers introduce base models first, before the specialty models that look the same/similar to the base model. By way of example, Audi introduced the 8 cylinder R8 before the 10 cylinder version. Corvette introduces its base model before the Z06. Yes, I recognize that companies do this in part to get purchasers of base models to upgrade to subsequently released specialty models. That being said, how do you think F599 purchasers would respond if, a year after paying $300k+ for their limited edition, unique looking F599, Ferrari introduced a car using the exact same body as an F599, except with a 6 cylinder engine and lesser quality interior details, sold it for $100,000, and flooded the market with the new model. The 6 cylinder model would unquestionably devalue the F599, and many F599 owners would be hopping mad.

When introducing both precious metal and SS versions of the same watch, Panerai has historically introduced them simultaneously, or the SS version first, then the precious metal version. By way of example, the 249 and 262 were introduced concurrently, and the 376 years after the 249. The 190 and 198 were introduced concurrently. Same for this year's 399 amd 398. The 289 was introduced long after the 233. As previously stated, introducing the SS version first, or both SS and precious metal versions concurrently, is important because the purchaser of the precious metal version knows upfront that **** version is available and may impact the price of his precious metal version. The information is available in advance.

The 21 / 232 relationship is, IMHO, very different for several reasons. Most importantly, the 21 is profoundly different from the 232. The 21 has several incredibly unique characteristics, including most importantly the vintage Rolex movement and first special edition status, etc. (doesn't the 21 also have tritium markers?). The two watches are so vastly different that the 232 never threatened to devalue the 21. Moreover, the two watches were introduced over ten years apart.

In 2012, Panerai deviated from this model by introducing the 449 AND 425 one year after the 373. On the other hand, without getting into details, I praise and commend Panerai for how it handled certain issues that arose from this convergence of events.


Craig LA

"There are three types of people in the world -- those who can count, and those who can't." ~Warren Buffet

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